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Struggling to find balance

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This topic contains 31 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #318551

    Mark
    Participant

    Hi,

    My wife and I got married 2 years ago after knowing each other for 8 years. We are from two very different cultures and have always embraced our differences. Her family traveled from another country to attend our wedding, which was phenomenal… but this is where trouble started.. She agreed to let her mother stay with us, without consulting me… Her mother has been with us since the wedding and continues to live in our house. I feel like I have been screaming about her presence in our house, but I don’t think my wife is getting my point. It had gotten to the point where i am staying at work late every night because i don’t want to go home. The woman doesn’t speak English so we don’t communicate much. My wife is correct, the woman cleans, cooks, and does the laundry.. never gets in the way… but it’s driving me crazy … My wife and I had a big blowout this week over this …(our 4th)  she believes that she is culturally obligated to take care of her mom and wants her to stay… I want her mom to go back home.. she has overstayed her visa now and will be banished for 10 years if she leaves now …

    I feel like i should just be okay with this arrangement but I wasn’t asked.. I cant help but feel a bit betrayed.. I am sliding back into some depression as i never really  get mad.. i just get depressed…  I need to find some sort of emotional balance or we will fail at the marriage. It was quickly coming down to an ultimatum the other night…and she was ready to walk  i think… but I don’t want to lose her over this.. its my issues .. its my discomfort … but its not fair….i am getting ready to breakdown in tears again…Am I making too much of this? I feel like I am being immature and selfish on one hand… and disrespected on the other hand .. What do I do?

    any comments would be much appreciated… thanks

     

     

    #318565

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mark:

    Basically, you chose to live with the woman you married and she deceived you and brought her mother to live with you without your consent.

    She didn’t ask for your consent because she either didn’t value it, didn’t care how you would feel about a daily situation of years and years to come, or she was afraid you will say No, and figured she will trap you in this situation and that it will be difficult for you to set yourself free from it.

    So how do you keep living and “find balance” with a woman who doesn’t value your feelings, and/ or who purposefully trapped you?

    anita

     

    #318575

    Mark
    Participant

    Great Question… I am at a loss for an answer… I don’t want to end the marriage, and I don’t want to continue to be taken advantage of.. there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. .. I feel hurt that she would end our marriage rather then send her mom back home… or that’s her threat… either way .. it sucks….

    I struggle not to be the victim in all of my life circumstances.. I seem to easily assume that victim mentality.. but I am also always setting myself up for failure by putting myself in these types of situations, allowing someone to take advantage of me… I am now 58 years old… I would think I would have learned this by now.. yet here we go again… I hate these feelings but cant seem to work my way out of these situations … I don’t know what to do… it feels like I should just give up …

     

    #318577

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mark:

    The positive aspect in this situation is that you don’t have children with your wife of two years. Good thing. I don’t see any solution to this situation other than you going to see a divorce lawyer, explain to the lawyer the nature of the deceit: “She agreed to let her mother stay with us, without consulting me”, and with the advice and guidance of your lawyer, take the first step. See what happens next.

    You wrote: “I seem to easily assume that victim mentality”- in this case, as you described it, you really were a victim of deceit.

    “I am also always setting myself up for failure by putting myself in these types of situations, allowing someone to take advantage of me… I am now 58 years old”-

    – somehow settling into another bad situation simply because it happened before, doesn’t make sense. How can you possibly be okay with a bad situation because .. there were bad situations before. I understand that you are 58 and not 28, but your next ten years will feel like a very long time, each day will seem very long, living this way.

    You are  not thinking something like: I am 58 so might as well suffer for the rest of my life, do you?

    anita

    #318579

    Mark
    Participant

    Well….yes.. in fact… that is exactly what has been going through my mind… I don’t want to divorce,… and I can make my voice heard… or my point anyway… so yes… I was thinking  i am 58 and might as well just live out my days this way…. but I know that it won’t work in the long run..

    I will get more depressed and stay away longer each day,… and then I just won’t go home any more… so I guess the end is inevitable… I hate this… I have been through this before… the ex was an alcoholic… I was married to her for 10 years… that was quite some time ago… I feel so stupid… i felt like she took advantage of me too..

    Everyone says I am such a nice guy…  maybe I am to nice… I hate this so much …

    #318585

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mark:

    I understand you hating this, that you didn’t want this to be your experience, once again. But look, really, you are not too old to learn and make better choices today!

    I remember some time ago I thought to myself: what is the use of trying to get better, to be emotionally healthier.. it is not like I am going to get my life back, be 20 something or 30 something and re-do things. Might as well stop trying and just accept misery.

    But like you suggested yourself, it doesn’t work that way. It is possible to feel even worse than you do, at 59 and 69. Better prevent that escalation of misery at 58.

    Keep talking (typing, that is) to me here, if it helps, and I will reply every time.

    anita

    #318589

    Mark
    Participant

    It helps A lot Anita,.. just to feel heard, it is very much appreciated.

    i am looking for a therapist who can help me walk this road… I am wistfully hoping that she will go with me to talk to someone.. but that isn’t really what is going to happen…. I guess I need to give her the ultimatum… her mom or her marriage… and see her true colors at that point.. I shied away from going there the other night when we were fighting about this … I felt that the conversation was heading that way and I stopped before it got to that point.. i was afraid of the truth.. that she really had this planned from the start and that is the real reason .. the only reason ….she married me to begin with…. that brings up all kinds of unlovable feelings and I am trying not to internalize this .. i don’t have much choice I guess.. although I know inside that I will still try to hang on as long as I can….

    #318591

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mark:

    You are welcome. This is going to be difficult. Better not make it more difficult than it has to be. It is possible that if she fully understands that you may divorce her, that it will get ugly, depending on circumstances. If she needs you  for financial reasons, and if she needs you so to keep her mother (and herself) in the country, she may threaten you with whatnot. Or she may try to further deceive you.

    It may be better for you, if you sense it getting ugly, to see a divorce lawyer sooner than later, and before she does, so that you can protect yourself and prevent problems, following sound legal advice as to what you should be doing next.

    anita

    #318593

    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Mark,

    Did your wife ever discuss the idea of her mom coming to live with you or her feelings that she will be responsible for taking care of her when you were dating?  If not, I agree with Anita about her taking advantage, as that’s something that should have been disclosed at some point over the time before you got married.  If you had discussed it, it’s possible that she assumed you’d be okay with it and wasn’t trying to trick you (although she definitely still should’ve discussed it with you again before moving her in).

    If you give her an ultimatum, just be prepared for the possibility of her choosing her mom. I hope she will go to counseling with you if you’re able to find a counselor because I think it would help some if she understood your feelings on this, too. Even though her mother never gets in the way, I can totally understand how her presence in the house would be awkward, especially since she doesn’t speak the same language. I would not voluntarily enter a situation like that either, and I think it’s important for your wife to know and understand your feelings on this, and if she cannot respect them, you might be better off apart.

    #318931

    Mark
    Participant

    Thanks Valora,

    We were supposed to go to her home country for the wedding initially… then her sisters changed the plans and we wound up paying for some of her family to come here. We bought international flights for her parents as well as two sisters and her brother and his wife… 6 flights of about 1500 each… I agreed as it was her first wedding and I wanted it to be so special for her. She hadn’t seen her family in 19 years. There was no discussion about her mom staying.. Her mom and her sisters came about 2 months before the wedding to “help” out. I have to say it was fun having them here and I enjoyed their company … then everyone except mom stayed. Mom had a visa for 6 months, so it was ok that she stay around for a few weeks longer… then there was a plan for her to visit and stay with cousins in NJ… that didn’t work, she was back in a few days… then she was going to stay with my wife’s daughter in VA.. that lasted about 2 weeks.. then she was going to live with some other family in France… she left, got sick, and came right back again… each time.. we agreed to a deadline for her to “visit” for a week or so at a time… but then.. she just stayed.. now .. she overstayed her visa, so if she leaves, she cant come back for ten years… my wife is trying to get her mom a green card.. so she can come and go… but this has turned into 2 years … and i feel like i have been taken advantage of.. its just feels like i have been capitulating for her the whole time.. giving in, over and over again…

    #318935

    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Mark,

    There is a thin line between being taken advantage of and being understanding, and the deciding factor on which side your situation falls is your wife’s intentions.  It sounds to me like they have been trying to find her mother many different places where she can go and where she does go and then it doesn’t work out, so she comes back. I can understand why your wife would feel that she needs to give her mom a place to stay when things don’t work out. Now, with the green card situation, you are all between a rock and a hard place. I’m not sure your wife’s intentions are on the side of taking advantage of you, but I don’t know your wife at all, so that’s something you’re going to have to really evaluate. If it were me, I think I’d probably try to wait it out a bit longer, as long as the intention is still to get her a green card so that she may come and go rather than intending for your mother-in-law to live with you forever.  It might help to have another discussion with your wife just to make this boundary clear, but I fear if you give her an ultimatum, she’s going to choose her mother because NOT choosing her mother likely means she won’t see her for 10 years unless she goes and visits her in her home country, and I know if I were in that situation, I would hate that idea and would do anything I could to avoid it. Just something to think about.

    Your feelings about this situation may just require a perspective shift… and perhaps if you decide to stay in this situation until your mother-in-law gets a green card, you and your wife could figure out something that makes you feel better, such as your wife taking your mother-in-law for visits to other family members’ houses for a few days so you get the house to yourself once in a while, things like that.

    #318963

    Mark
    Participant

    Yes Valora,

    Thanks .. I am trying not to feel so taken advantage of… trying not to feel betrayed… its a struggle.. i still feel wounded … but I do not want to end the marriage… i don’t want to lose her… I just don’t have the same relationship with “family” .. so I cannot understand her position and she cannot understand mine … My wants should weigh as much as hers… here I go sounding like a 6 yr old again… I feel like I am being immature… but I need to feel “heard” …

    #318993

    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Mark, have you found a good counselor to talk to, yet? I would really try to see if she would attend couples counseling with you, let her know you aren’t feeling heard and that you want to feel better about the situation but you just can’t quite figure out how to.

    Do you think your wife, outside of this particular situation, is really someone who would take advantage of you? If not, remind yourself of that when you feel taken advantage of in this one, and, again, make sure your boundaries are clear. I can see compromise being a good idea given the green card issue, but getting one must be actively worked on and a plan in place for after she does, where you will know that she will not be staying with you after that. Having that plan in place may help you feel less taken advantage of and more like you’re just being a a good and understanding husband.  Also, perhaps what you might need is more appreciation?  Have they shown you a lot of appreciation for allowing her to come back and stay there as many times as she has? And for flying them all over for the wedding?

    #319103

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mark:

    A summary of your situation based on all your posts here: at 50, living in the U.S., divorced (a previous ten year marriage to an alcoholic woman who you feel took advantage of you), you met a woman who was born in another country, to a very different culture,  who was away from her home country at that point for 11 years, never married but has an adult daughter living in the U.S.

    At about 56, the two of you decided to get married and planned for the wedding to take place in her home country. Her two sisters who live in the home country “changed the plans” to a new plan: you pay $9000 to fly six people to the U.S. for the wedding to take place in the U.S. You flew in her mother and two sisters first, about two months before the wedding, and the other three (her father, brother and brother’s wife) later, closer to the wedding date.

    Sometime after the wedding, her two sisters, brother, brother’s wife left back to the home country, as well as her father who flew back to the home country without his wife. His wife, the mother of your wife, stayed in your house, away from her husband, two daugthers, son and daughter-in-law, having a six month tourist visa.

    Early on in her stay there was a plan that she visits and stays with cousins in New Jersey, she did indeed visit them but “she was back in a few days”. Next there was a plan that she stays with her granddaughter, your wife’s daughter in Virginia, “that lasted about 2 weeks”. Lastly, there was another plan- that she lives in France with other family members. She indeed flew there, “got sick, and came right back again”.

    At this point her mother overstayed her visa by a year and a  half, and “if she leaves, she can’t come back for ten years”. Your wife “believes that she is culturally obligated to take care of her mom and wants her to stay”, she intends to try and get her a green card.

    Her mother doesn’t speak English, she “cleans, cooks, and does the laundry.. never gets in the way”, except for the way of your sanity (“driving me crazy… I am sliding back into some depression”). You and your wife had four blowouts over the issue of her mother’s stay.

    My thoughts today: maybe her mother is not as “never gets in the way” type of woman- there is a long list of people who do not want her to live with them (and/ or she doesn’t want to live with them). This is the list: her own husband,  her two daughters who are living in the home country, her son and daughter in law, other relatives in the home country, cousins in New Jersey, granddaughter in Virginia, and relatives in France.

    Maybe, just maybe you are not the only person she is driving crazy.

    If I understand correctly, your wife did not see her mother in person for 19 years before marrying you. After 19 years, as the wedding was materialing, the cultural obligation she mentioned,  to have her mother live in her home,  kicked in.

    It is possible that of all the homes she lived in, yours is the biggest and most beautiful? Maybe the other people with whom she lived are aggressive and you are quiet and timid and your wife passive, so it is her best bet? I don’t know.

    If you want to take it from here, Mark, please do: is my summary accurate and what do you think about the points I brought up?

    anita

    #319185

    Mark
    Participant

    The summary is very on point.. you are every good at this… I am a childhood sex abuse survivor so i am always”timid” and always subject to feeling taken advantage of…  8 years of therapy has gotten me (at least) aware of some of my baggage…..but I believe that i somehow set myself up for repeated “abuse”  – being taken advantage of … which immediately kicks me into a depressive state… I am on wellbutrin which has removed the suicide ideation (monkey off my back ) … but I am still careful about getting too far down that rabbit trail….

    Yes, I would agree that most people, that her mom knows, don’t seem to be tolerant of her for some reasons… i am not sure… i don’t speak French so I cannot understand her or what she thinks/believes/ or rants about … I am oblivious… and she doesn’t speak English so… we don’t communicate …

    I bought the house that we live in about 5 years ago… it is a nice house sitting on top of a mountaintop with 13 acres of woods .. away from everybody… my family, friends, neighbors, strangers, trick or treaters…lol… I bought it for my own peace of mind and heart … distance is my coping mechanism… so some of my issue is just having someone else in my space… someone uninvited by me… I was happy that my wife enjoyed being a bit isolated.. but we haven’t had much time alone since even before we were married…i just feel shortchanged ,,.. I had to explain the concept of bait and switch to my wife.. she didn’t understand my reference… as she works all the time and I come home to her mother in the house… drives me crazy …

    I have not yet found a new therapist ,.. still searching … hate to start this all over again… but last one couldn’t see me outside of business hours .. i digress… sorry

    This woman has 12 children and none of them seem to want to deal with her.. She has two houses .. albeit not very nice ones.. back in her home country..  i wouldn’t want to live in them… i saw them first hand… and she has been separated from her husband for many? years…  though they participated in our wedding together…

    I am trying to be patient, trying to be a good husband… trying to be a good person… trying to be someone lovable … but I  am afraid… afraid to go through divorce again (losing my home etc) afraid of failing at another marriage… afraid of losing …

     

     

     

     

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